A "merely adequate" moon
What, then, will make it so super?
As many of you are aware (and many, I'm sure are not), the moon does not revolve around the Earth in a perfect circle; it actually has an elliptical orbit. For those of you who are not familiar with the term "elliptical orbit," it means that the moon's orbit is oblong, and so the distance from the Earth to the moon varies. The closest point is the "perigee," and the farthest point the "apogee."
the moon's elliptical orbit
Obviously, the closer the moon is, the bigger it looks
So that sets the stage for tonight's SUPERMOON!!! The phases of the moon and the eccentricity of the moon's orbit have coincided so that the full moon tonight will be the closest full moon since March of 1993!!! Isn't that just super???
Interesting, yes, but probably not super. You see, just over a scant 2 years ago, in December 2008, we had an awfully close full moon too. Don't get me wrong, this one is closer by 21 miles! 21 miles seems like a lot to me as a pedestrian, and perhaps even a passenger in a motorized vehicle, but as a planetary resident and lunar observer, 21 miles is really small potatoes. The full moon in December 2008 occurred when the moon was 221,587 miles from the Earth. The full moon tonight will occur at a distance of 221,566 miles - making it closer by 0.009477%.
Would Superman be quite as heroic if he was only 0.009477% more super than your average guy?
And so I say to the media, when it asks me questions such as this:
Kindly shut up. I have a marginally-better-moon to watch!